Listening to my dogs and husband’s breathing while they slept the other night reminded me that taking slow deep breaths relaxes me and eases anxiety. Stress and letting go are constant battles in my brain. The former can aggravate chronic and mental illness and pain. I practice yoga and other exercises that are gentle on my body (though, admittedly, not lately) and learned some time ago the value of deep breathing. Not the most disciplined person, I find myself needing more – a tangible, realistic way of letting go of circumstances that are toxic to my brain.
Watching Anderson Cooper on a 60 Minutes report on mindfulness, my curiosity piqued when Cooper said research of the practice showed positive results for sufferers of chronic illness. Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Stress Reduction and Relaxing Program (later renamed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. While he studied Buddhism, Kabat-Zinn prefers taking a scientific approach to mindfulness and apparently, it works. American Mindfulness Research was created in 2013 to support empirical and conceptual data as well as develop best practices.
According to the website: www.mindful.org: “Mindfulness is the innate ability we have to be present, composed, and to pause before we overreact to the challenges of our busy lives.”
I’m intrigued that practicing mindfulness can improve physical, as well as, mental health. The practice may also improve eating habits and insomnia. Through research and practice, I hope I can better manage stressful situations – especially those that I cannot change – and improve my health. Never before disciplined with daily meditation, I recently started listening to a podcast offering free mindful meditations (Mindful Meditations) before sleep. I think I’m ready to take the next step and practice mindfulness in my daily life.
In addition to the websites mentioned above, I’m reading two books by Jon Kabat-Zinn:
Mindfulness for Beginners
Wherever You Go, There You Are
I welcome comments from readers who practice mindfulness and anyone who wants to join me on my journey.